Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where do we go from here

The running year is winding down and right now, I have no plans for my next race. Next years possibilities include:
Another Triathlon (maybe a half Ironman)
Psycho Wyco (a tough, mid-winter trail run)
Brew to Brew (maybe solo this year?)
Mad City Marathon (Madison, WI)

I'm looking for a spring marathon in the upper midwest so I can pick up my daughter in Chicago and then go run the race with her.

Right now, I've stopped any running as I await medical clearance on my foot. I went to see an orthopedic specialist to see if there could possibly be a stress fracture. X-rays did not reveal anything, so this Wednesday, I go in for a bone scan. So, I may take a break from running for a month or so or I may start back up next weekend, we'll see. The uncertainty has me back in the pool to keep in shape and thoughts of a 2nd triathlon are beginning to sprout.

Last night I received a call from the President of our local running club. He was actually asking me if I would be interested in taking over as President for the upcoming year. What, are they crazy, me? I've only been a member for 1 year and honestly, I'm more of a follower, not a leader. Well, frankly, I was honored that he even thought of me that way. I would like to be more involved with the club, but not quite at that level.

College Football

Around here, I'm sure there are many people that are quite disappointed with their favorite team.
Kansas - inconsistent and can't stop anybody
Missouri - not quite the offensive juggernaut they expected
Oklahoma - couldn't win the big game
But none so bad a year as the team I still follow, the Michigan Wolverines.

A few weeks back we had our annual Michigan vs Penn St party. One of my closest friends is from Pennsylvania and is a big Penn St fan. So, each year we get together for the game and the loser has to burn an item bearing the logo of their school. Since I've known Dave, I have yet to burn any Michigan gear. Yeah, eight straight years of watching Penn St t-shirts, flags, towels go up in flames. The tide finally changed this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blue Springs 50/50

The Blue Springs 50/50 is one of the smallest marathons in the country. The race also includes a 50K and a 50 miler. This actually a trail race, but the trail itself is exceptionally smooth, fine crushed gravel; an excellent surface upon which to run. It was a little strange, when asked by other runners what race I'm in, having to reply, "Oh, just the marathon." While the aid was adequate, this is a race where you need to be self sufficient. B.Y.O.W.

My today race consisted of 4 stages.

The Serenity Stage - Miles 1-6

The quiet and calm of an early Sunday morning before daylight, leads the mind to ponder thoughts about the virtues of running. I'm reminded of what a wonderful life I lead; from the family support I receive to the amazing physical and mental benefits that running a marathon provides. Smooth jazz songs flow through my headphones in time with the gently rushing waters of the Little Blue River along the trail. The sun slowly rises above the horizon and promises to take the chill off my body. At the moment, there's no place I'd rather be.

The Delusional Stage - Miles 7-13

I'm warmed up and now into the race. Things are going well, my pace is good and thoughts of a personal best dance in my head. The magic number to me is 4:20 or averaging a 10 minute mile pace. There's no mile markers on the course and I wear a Bulova Accutron, not a Garmin, so I'll have to rely on feel for my pace. I'm most certainly running below 10:00. And I feel great! I begin thinking about how close to a BQ I would be if I keep this up. The adrenaline is pumping as my mind is racing as fast as my legs. Yeah, this could be the day I put it all together.

The Faded Glory Stage - Miles 14-20

Somewhere around mile 14, reality begins to set in. My shadow looks up at me and laughs, "I told you to take it easy, you didn't even train that hard and you expect to set a PR?" I'm still hanging tough and begin to try and think of a Mantra so I don't have to listen to my shadow. "I've got inner strength, that will keep me going." I try to keep reciting, but along comes a new pain I've never felt before. Soon, this pain in my left foot hobbles me enough to where I need to walk. Walking provides little relief and the pain intensifies. It feels as if my shoe lace is too tight, so I loosen up the bow, but to no avail. After walking a half mile or so, I give running another attempt. The pain hasn't completely gone, but at least feels bearable for now. The aid station around mile 16 is approaching and this is located at the start area, so I am considering calling it a day. I reach the aid station and miraculously, the foot feels OK now. I grab a couple of Aleve and continue on. The Aleve works wonderfully, at least for a couple miles. Here I am, nearing the 20 mile mark and the pain has returned with a vengeance.

The Hallucinatory Stage - Miles 21-26

My mind now has to deal with the constant pain in my foot as well as the tightening hamstrings and a mental state that can't focus on anything positive. I'm past the point of no return so I have to finish. My pace has slowed dramatically as I watch Survivor Man pass by. Wow, a celebrity, what's he doin' out here? After a quick blink of the eyes, he's gone. Damn, I had some questions. I bit later I notice a 5 piece band playing in the adjacent meadow. Journey to the Center of the Mind? Is this a 1960's experiment? Wow, I need water. I need to lay down. Or is it lie down, I don't know, I'm confused. Eventually, the gates opened and I entered the 26.2 zone.

I have no idea how I made it through the last 5 miles!

Finish Time 4:44:01

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A New Direction?

Have you ever had a day as bad as this guys? It's a lesson we all learn eventually, don't try new foods the night before a big race.

Myself, I'm going on a new Runners Diet, where carbs, protein and fat all come together in a tasty sandwich that just has to be good for you!

Autumn has delivered a new boost of confidence in my running lately. Looking back over my logs for the last couple months, I found many entries with words like struggled, tired, slow. Now, with temps in the early morning in the 40's and 50's, my energy level has been renewed and the legs feel fresh.

But, as with all good in life comes the equalizer. I am now struggling to keep my job, tired of all the company BS and slowly become more depressed.

It was announced a few weeks ago that my position at work is going away. The company, always careful to market the same old strategy with a different name, was kind enough to not call this "downsizing." Instead, I am caught up in Role Consolidation. Any sarcasm in the previous sentence was purely unintentional. Yes, someone else will do my work.

OK, so it's not like I'm surprised, we've been dealing with this for years. I've survived many previous downsizing and/or outsourcing efforts and seen many of my long time friends get let go. I should have seen this coming. I work in a dying business, check printing. Hell, I don't even write checks anymore. But, it's a job nonetheless and has given me a comfortably lifestyle for 35 years.

The good news; they haven't yet announced who is affected. I could be one of the fortunate few who they keep on. Realistically, I stand about a 25% chance of keeping my job. You know what, I'm not sure I want to. I'm sick of living on pins and needles about this time every year. Unfortunately, the stock market, the job market, the general economy all make this a bit scary.

Regardless, I haven't felt like writing much lately; for that, I apologize. I have been trying to at least keep up with reading my favorite blogs, but thinking of humorous, witty comments has been difficult, so I will only show as another tick on your site meter. Thankfully, running has gone well lately and keeps me focused on the big picture. As always, I feel better after a good run and it helps offset the 'I don't give a shit' attitude I've been carrying around.

But life goes on, just maybe in a new direction. I will start a new career if needed; something I enjoy doing, not just another boring job. Maybe a brain surgeon or selling German roasted almonds at the mall.
As Jack Handey once said, "If you're robbing a bank and you're pants fall down, I think it's okay to laugh and to let the hostages laugh too, because, come on, life is funny. "

Friday, September 12, 2008

Patriot's Run

The Patriot's Run here in my hometown of Olathe, Kansas, is an event that is truly unique.

The race itself is held on 9-11 to commemorate the events of 9-11 and pay tribute to those who lost there lives and those service men and women who help protect our country today.

Today I write almost with a tear in my eye, I'm so choked up over the entire experience. I'm proud of my hometown for putting on this event, proud of my own personal accomplishment, and most of all, proud to be an American.

The event itself begins at Noon on 9-11 and ends promptly at 9:11 pm. The course is a 3/4 mile track around a small park in the city. The idea is to run as many laps as you please. Come and run 5 laps; fine. Want to do a marathon? Fine, complete the 36+ laps. Want to start at 3pm rather than noon? Fine. Want to run for 9 hours 11 minutes? Fine. It is literally, a create your own event. Each lap is timed and recorded. My goal today was to try and get in the marathon distance.

  • The morning began with the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and then all the runners made their way from the picnic shelter, through a human tunnel of servicemen and out to the starting line. We are all led by Jose Nebrida who will be carrying the 'Flag of Honor', an American flag which is embroidered with all the names of the 9-11 victims in its stripes. Jose is a proud American who immigrated here from the Philippines when he was 19 and a veteran of 160 some marathons. If you don't feel inspired by all this, you'd better check your heart. Seriously folks, I'm choking up just writing about it.

This time of year in Kansas we could have easily had temperatures near 90, but today we were spared. Race time temps were around 70 and stayed there all day. We had an off and on light rain throughout the day which was really a blessing. The wet conditions did not dampen the spirit of the runners or the volunteers.

Jay (Olathe Running Club President) proudly waves the Flag of Honor

I started out running with my friend Joe, a fellow Olathe Running Club member. His goals were similar to mine, as he is hoping to finish his first ever official marathon today. We started out a bit ambitious; running the first 5 or 6 miles under a 10 minute pace, but I knew I would need to slow down. I really haven't even done much training lately, with only 1 long run (the half marathon in Chicago) since my last marathon in July. Also, somewhere in the back of my mind lay these thoughts about doing an Ultra today. So, I reign myself back some and get more into a 10:30 pace for the next 10 or so miles.

One of my fears about this course would be the boredom of running the same loop over and over and over. Somehow, I never really felt that bored; it was always encouraging to pass by the aid/timing station where your bib was scanned to record each lap. The volunteers were so friendly and supportive and it was exciting to see the lap count continue to increase. So far, I'm feeling decent and somewhere around 15-20 miles or so I think I made the decision to do more than the marathon. With that in mind, I begin to start mixing in some walking with my running.

During lap 36, which is the final lap to complete the marathon, I had the honor of taking the Flag of Honor from Jose and running with it as I completed goal #1. This gave me just a remarkable sense of joy. Now my thoughts are on completing my first ever Ultra. I figure about 8 more laps will give me the approx distance of a 50K, so that becomes the next goal. I'm now running about 3 laps to each one I walk, but I'm certainly not worried about time. I just want to finish. Off and on I meet back up with Joe and he has completed his marathon and has also decided to continue on.

After another hour or so of running, I've lost track of my lap count, but am quite sure I've done what I need for a 50K. I've been really inspired all day and still don't feel like quitting. I've got to be honest here, folks. I've led a pretty charmed life in comparison to what the 9-11 victims and their families went through. I've never had to serve my country in the armed forces. The least I can do is honor these people by enduring only a fraction of their pain by completing this entire run. So then was the decision made to keep going for the entire 9 hours and 11 minutes.

The last couple hours were very difficult. I was now doing the run/walk mixture at about 50%. It was dark and few people were left out on the track. But, somehow, I was able to make it all the way to 9:11.

Final count:

  • 55 Laps

  • 40.04 miles

  • 10th place overall for total number of laps

The smile on my face covered up any of the pain that was felt in my legs, my feet, my back, well, just about every part of my body. But with the help and motivation from people I've never known, I am now one Proud American.


Photos courtesy of Dick Ross at

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Everybody needs a good laugh now and then. We, at times, will go to great lengths to get a good laugh. People flock to read humorous blogs like Nitmos or The D just for a smile. We all make fun of the boss at work, I'll even degrade myself just for a laugh.

Go ahead, laugh! Someone has done a study that shows that 10-15 minutes of laughing burns about 50 calories. Anyone who has had a strained diaphragm knows how much the abs and core muscles are involved in laughing…so that’s exercise!

So, the other day, I stepped out of my normal routine and threw my wife a curveball. A spontaneous moment found me clicking "Purchase" on the flat screen at work. The result; tickets to go see Jim Gaffigan at the Midland Theatre in KC.

Please don't tell my boss I did this at work, she won't see the humor!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Looking ahead

Time for a rest? Time to work on my golf game rather than do long runs on the weekend?

I doubt.

While my golf game does need some serious work, I just can't seem to make myself take any time off from running. I'll still get in some golf, but running will probably continue to take precedence.

For the first time in awhile, I do not have any current race commitments. I do, however, have a couple target races in mind. In particular, I’m close to diving in and taking on my first 50K. The runs I’m considering are the Blue Springs 50/50, a certified trail run or the Dude, Where’s The Trail?, a non-competitive trail run where maps are given for you to figure the out course on your own. Hmmm….adventurous, I like that! Also, Dude, Where’s The Trail? is a month later (late Nov) and I’m thinking I may need the extra time to prepare. If anyone has any insight on either of these, please let me know your thoughts.

There is also the North Shore Trail run at Clinton Lake on Sept 6th that I plan to do. This is a Trail Nerds event, but is more like an organized trail run than a race. Where could you have more fun for only 8 bucks? It is a race day sign up only, so there is no commitment. I’ve never run out at Clinton Lake, so I’m looking forward to this.

Sue and I signed up today to volunteer for the KC Marathon. We will be course monitors, so you can rest assured, you will not get run over by a car when going through our intersection! Once I get specific info, I’ll let you know where we’ll be.

We’re also considering another trip to Chicago. I’m thinking I’d love to go the weekend of the Chicago Marathon. Maybe we’ll even volunteer there too, or just cheer on the runners as the course come through the Wrigleville area in miles 7-8. This trip would be without the faithful family dog, Ringo, allowing us to do more in the city. Sorry Alison, ‘The Boy’ does not want to come visit you.

The rest of this month will have me concentrating on Fantasy Football. Yes, I love fantasy sports and football is the best. This time of year I’m bombarded with email updates, magazine articles and spreadsheets, all in the quest to win bragging rights for another year (and the possibility of some nice sized wads of cash.) Beating out 3-time Super Bowl Champion, ‘The D’, is always tough. Did I get that right, D?

Oh, and Alison: Here's a fact

I'm the Wiz

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chicago Distance Classic

Let me first off say, "I LOVE CHICAGO!"

I ran this race for 2 reasons;

1. My daughter, Alison, just moved to Chicago and I wanted to run a race with her
2. I waited too long and the Chicago Marathon was already filled

I'm not going to spend a lot of time with this post; instead, I'll just add lots of pictures. It's a typical big city race, crowded, but well organized. The course runs from downtown along Lakeshore Dr, then turns back and runs up the bike/jogging trail right along the lake. Nice, but I'd actually prefer to run through the unique neighborhoods.

We were running well, hoping to finish around 2 hours. One of us, of whom I shall not refer to by name, had a battle going on between the stomach and breakfast, which consisted of the 'Vegan Take-a-Hike Scone,' from the local organic bakery. The scone and it's fibrous content won the battle, costing us a good 5 minute bathroom stop. Perhaps the concoction might be more aptly named the 'Take-a-Sh.....oh, never mind!

By the way, I am not a vegetarian.

Final time, 2:10:58. Respectable.

Alison's new apartment, the lower floor of this 4-story home in the Lakeview/Wrigleyville area

My favorite tavern, O'Donovans, right on the corner of her street. Great food!


I think they belive this year

Alison, myself and Ringo
If I were to be a Chicago sports fan, I'd definitely be a Cubs fan.
What a great atmosphere around the whole area!

Sue and Alison in the Chicago Skyline

Look, there I am, sporting my Trail Nerds bandana
as we head near the finish line.

We pose in Grant Park for a picture

Now, who could resist this? Not me

Nothing like a fresh Stiegls Marzen after a long hard run.

This lager has a pale yellow-gold hue. Toasty and bready aromas
follow through on a medium-bodied palate with soft malty
flavors and a hint of spicy and bitter hops on the finish. Delicious.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

University of Okoboji Marathon

I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting much from this event, just another long run; a ‘training run’ so to speak in the quest to try an Ultra.

I had read and heard many unflattering comments about Okoboji; very little aid, safety concerns running along busy highways, course markings were off, the medal is a piece of crap and so on. Some of that was very accurate, but sometimes it’s good to experience and form your own opinion. Here is mine.

The University of Okoboji Marathon takes place in the far northwest corner of Iowa. One might be a bit surprised when visiting this part of the country. Okoboji and the surrounding communities are a recreational oasis in the middle of farm country. Here, the logo of Sea Ray on 40 foot speed boats out-numbers the famous green of John Deere tractors. If you’re a water sports enthusiast, you’re going to love Okoboji.

If you’re looking for the university’s campus, look no further than the ‘Great Lakes of Iowa’. “What,” you say? OK, let me explain. The curriculum for this university includes swimming, water-skiing, boating, diving, shopping, partying and so on. Here, you don’t really graduate, you celebrate. The university is mythical except in the minds of the student body. You get my drift, right?

Sue and I made the drive from KC and set up camp (yes, I mean camp literally) at Gull Point State Park. The campground is scattered with majestic oak trees and the beach is only a short walk away. Since I chose a site with electric, our tent was tucked neatly between two RV’s. That’s the price you pay for being a runner and needing electricity for important things, like having a fully charged iPod! With a fully inflated air mattress, I slip off to dreamland early, as the race begins at 6am.

Early the next day, we make our way to Pikes Point State Park on the opposite side of the lake, where the marathon and triathlon start. The marathon consists of about 100 runners, so there is little congestion and no problem at all with parking at the start. A full moon and the rising sun work in harmony to provide plenty of light on a beautiful 65 degree morning. Right on time, the gun goes off.

The early parts of the course wind through the residential areas of the eastern shore of West Lake Okoboji. The area reminds me of my old stomping ground, Houghton Lake, Michigan, where Trunk lifters out-number permanent residents by a substantial amount. The weekenders are affectionately known as ‘Trunk lifters’ (or not so affectionately by some) since we all make the trek up from the big city, open our trunks and unpack Friday night, then open the trunk again Sunday and prepare for the trip back home. The lake homes vary from cute little cottages, to huge mansions with spectacular views. I would be perfectly content in owning any one of them!

By the 5th mile, we swing into the town of Arnold Park and run for awhile along the main highway through town. It’s mostly a 2 lane road lined with restaurants, gift shops and resorts. I spot a night club advertising Karaoke tonight; if I finish the race OK, I’ll be back there later! As we turn across the southern end of the lake, I spot a water-skier slicing through the calm waters. I was a pretty decent water-skier myself when I was younger. The numerous flashbacks keep my mind occupied and the first 10 miles breeze by effortlessly.

Around the 10th mile, we begin to see the bikers from the triathlon pass us. This section of the race is along a major 2-lane state road, so it is a bit unsettling to have a bike whiz by at 20 some MPH as they are crammed between the big SUV on their left and the runner on the right. OK, safety is a bit of a concern through this section, but it’s only a few miles. The gravel shoulder is groomed quite well and provides a more comforting zone in which to run. It’s not a horribly busy road, and I’ll bet the majority of the traffic was vehicles dropping off runners at the half-marathon start, which is just up the road. Surely those drivers understand how to be cautious?

As we turn off the main road and back toward the western shoreline, a quick look to the western skies reveal very ominous dark clouds. It’s beginning to rain now, but it looks like heavy stuff isn’t far behind. I’ve met up with another runner, Joshua, a young pre-med student from Iowa State who is running his first marathon. We seem to be going the same pace and will end up running the rest of the race together. He seems to be thriving off the ‘old man’s experience’ and I am using his youthful enthusiasm to help me. As we run by the entrance to the state park where we’re camping, I spot my wife waiting with gels and Gatorade. I take a minute to pull off my iPod and give it to her, as there is nowhere to hide it once the rains come. This turns out to be a good decision; the downpour arrives shortly after.

As we pass the halfway point, I’m right on my desired split time of 2:10. By now, we’re soaking wet as the rain continues at a steady, moderate pace. Other than having heavier shoes from the moisture, the rain actually feels good and it doesn’t really bother either of us. The miles through the teens alternate between a paved trail following the highway, with some turn-offs into the western shore residential area. Luckily, the bikes stay out on the main highway, so we won’t have to contend with them any longer.

As with my last race, the miles between 18 and 22 seem to be the toughest. I haven’t checked my pace in awhile and am disappointed to see that I’ve fallen 5 minutes or so behind my goal. I never felt like I slowed down, and I don’t own a Garmin to confirm. As it is, I probably won’t be coming in with a PR today, but it’s still a pretty respectable time for me. We pass the start line again and the last 5-6 miles are the same course again, so we know the terrain and what to expect. Unfortunately, this is probably the hilliest part of the course and we have to run it a second time. Now, don’t be fooled, there may be a few hills in this section, but they are generally short and not too steep.

Finally, I can see the tracks of the roller coaster at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, which means the finish line is close. Joshua and I have stuck together since we met up around mile 10 and now we both kick it into high gear for the final stretch. Simultaneously, we cross the mats for a time of 4:27:53. A look at the website’s official times show that Joshua was one second behind me; surely he held up just slightly as we crossed, respectfully allowing his elder to beat him. I’m sure he could have blown me away if he wanted – what a fine young gentleman.

After the race, I could be found sitting around the campsite with a Leinenkugel Creamy Dark in one hand and an Arturo Fuentes Hemingway cigar in the other. I have a deeply satisfied feeling after the race and even though my time was a bit more than my goal, I think I enjoyed the entire experience of this race more than any other.

Later that afternoon, we went for dinner at The Wharf, located right on the channel between the east and west arms of the lake. We took a seat on the patio and watched the parade of boats pass by. Unbeknownst to us, this weekend was Homecoming. Logically, there would be a Homecoming Parade and of course, at this university, the parade would be on the water. Each boat was decorated in a unique theme, from Santa's Vacation to the Toga Party.
So far, I feel like I’ve breezed through my first few classes at the ‘U’, but there are a few more credit hours I need to complete before leaving. Yes, Karaoke 101 is being taught at the local night club, a place simply called Cocktails. The place is packed full of people from all walks of life; young and old alike and farmers whooping it up with doctors. There are also folks from Willie Nelson’s crew (who just finished playing an outdoor concert down the street), but Willie himself did not make an appearance. Being one of the few brave souls, I was able to sing multiple times. Here’s the list of songs I sang or should I say butchered:

Wherever You Will Go – The Calling
Down in the Boondocks – Billy Joe Royal
Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind
I Think I Love you – The Partridge Family
Mustang Sally – Buddy Guy

A perfect ending to a perfect weekend

Now, let’s look at the race itself and hear my thoughts on the issues I’ve read about.

* Very little aid – There were aid stations at least every 2 miles (except the first one which was about 3 miles) with both water and Powerade at most. No GU, no fruit or other foods, but I found it to be adequate. It would be smart to run with a running belt if you don’t have any of your own personal support on the course.

* Safety concerns on course – Yes, this is somewhat true through the highway 86 section, but I really didn’t feel in danger at all. I eventually moved to the gravel shoulder allowing a larger buffer zone. The entire course is open to traffic, but the majority is run on uncrowded residential streets.

* Course markings are off – I found the course to be marked very well, all directions are painted on the road, so you need to pay attention. The directions are not at all confusing. It seemed that the mile markers were accurate, at least through the first half where I was watching my time. I did not watch as closely the last 10 miles. There are no clocks on the course at all.

* The medal is a piece of crap – Quite true, by far. Most of my 5K medals are nicer! Oh well, who runs a race for the medal anyway?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Psycho Psummer

Within miles of the urban setting of Kansas City, lies a hidden paradise for trail runners. Wyandotte County Lake Park is the setting for a number of different trail events in the area; this race featuring a 50K, and a 15 miler. One might be described as 'Psycho' should they consider running one of these tests on hilly, rocky, muddy trails in the mid-summer heat of the Heartland. Myself and hundreds of others aren't as crazy as you think.

If you ever considered doing a trail race, you may want to choose a race put on by the Trail Nerds of KC. Ben Holmes and his gang do a first class job with these events.
  • There is more food than any marathon I've run - how 'bout a freshly grilled burger after the race! Or a vegan burger should you so desire
  • The friendliest volunteers - seriously, they genuinely make you feel as if you're the most important person on the course
  • The best looking shirts you can actually be proud to wear
  • A Trail Nerds bandanna - soaked in ice cold water and personally draped across the back of your neck by Ben himself after you finish
  • Free photos by Dick Ross, who shoots for many of the local races

It was a near picture perfect morning in KC for a run in July, and at 8am we were given last minute instructions from Ben. "The ticks have been bad this year", he warned, "so be sure to address them properly, they prefer to be called Arachnid Americans!!" After a good laugh, we're off.

I met up with one of my running buddies from the Olathe Running Club, Margaret, and we started off together. After the first big downhill, my fat old body couldn't fight the gravity and I sped out in front of Margaret and never did get back with her. I felt really bad, I wanted to be there to encourage her if she needed, but she's an outgoing, energetic young lady that would have no problem finding support.

My strategy for this type of run will be to walk the steep uphills and run the rest. I was doing quite well for most of the first half, but began walking some of the easier hills after the midway point. The course is predominately single track, with many rocks and roots and uneven footing. There is a few sections of paved road and a small section of gravel road. The terrain is certainly varied enough to make it interesting. There are plenty of great views, but don't look up too long, or you'll risk planting your face on a rock!

The women of the Trail Nerds are fondly referred to as 'Mud Babes' and of course, the trail delivers the goods. Somewhere in the last 1/4 of the course, the serious mud is lurking. I try unsuccessfully to dodge the mud, but to no avail. At one point, my shoe is sucked right off my foot! Later, I came across a beautiful clean stream, stop and wade through the deepest part (which is only ankle deep) and clean off my shoes. There, that will make things easier now.........well, that didn't last long, but remember; MUD IS FUN!

With the extra mud in tow, I finally leave the trail and begin the last leg across the open green pasture leading to the finish line. I'm feeling good about my time, but sad that the run is almost over. This is such an enjoyable and challenging course. The timer shows that I finished in 3:14:11, which would be the best pace I've run on this course yet.
Maybe next year I'll attempt the 50K.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Out of Retirement

Part of what running a marathon teaches you is that you can accomplish just about anything through hard work and desire. Couple that with a craving to relive some of the glory days of my youth and the idea of skating began to fester in my mind. It's been over 4 years since I last laced up the skates and I'm not getting any younger.

The argument went on in my mind for weeks. One side of the brain (which we shall call Mr Brightside) kept saying, "great exercise, the perfect compliment for stronger running." The other side (known as Capt Cautious) would respond, "one awkward hit against the knee and your marathon days might be over."

The battle would continue, but let's look at this objectively. Is there a risk that I twist an ankle or knee on a trail run? Yeah, that's realistic, but it doesn't stop me from running. Have I been injured before playing hockey, yeah, Capt Cautious would promptly point out; 1 concussion, 1 separated shoulder, 1 knee strain over the last 5 years I played. Not horrible odds, but a bigger risk, nonetheless. Ah, but the rewards are sweet. It's not the competition that drives me, rather the thrill of the game itself. The satisfaction of threading a picture perfect pass to a teammate as they score is powerful to me.

The whole idea was born when last month I went out to watch my son play his league game. On the other sheet of ice that day was a couple of old teammates playing in a separate game. After their games, we caught up in the lobby and my old teammate tried to convince me to come out and play again. They had a non-competitive session called 'Pond Hockey' that was a laid back, relaxed game for fun. The ability levels of the players ranged from relatively new skaters to elite players, my skill level would probably fall somewhere in the middle.

"Give it a try", she said, "you'll fit right in." Yes, my old teammate was a female, but believe me, she can play with any of the guys in those leagues! My appetite was whet that day.

Well, it looks like Mr Brightside has won the debate!

Last night I made my way to Pepsi Ice Midwest, plopped my butt down in the locker room and began to lace them up again. My wife said I was like a little kid that day, scared and nervous while preparing all my old equipment for the event. Every little detail was covered, from what color jersey to bring to making sure the skate laces were in good condition.

Jimmy Rutherford - Detroit Red Wings
1970 –1983

All of my fears were washed away once I stepped on the ice and made that first crossover and turned to skate up ice. It's like riding a bike, it all came back to me right away. I could still stop quick and still skate backwards.

During the game, I quickly discover that running does not give me the power to skate effortlessly like I thought it might. Only a few shifts into the game and I'm gasping for air and the legs feel like I've already ran a 10K. Yeah, skating is tough and this is going to be great exercise. After awhile, my heart rate starts to settle a bit and the hard work over the last few years begins to pay dividends. The legs are tired, but as with marathon running, I'm able to keep going and skate effectively.

Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with my comeback attempt. I did well enough skating and stick handling, grabbed a couple of assists, made my share of dumb passes, over-skated the puck a few times, but in the end, I was still standing; injury free.

After the game, we had a cookout with both teams in the parking lot with burgers, brats and of course, plenty of beer. I don't think I've ever met a hockey player that doesn't enjoy a beer after the game! The guys were all so nice to me and encouraged me to come out and play again. I'll admit, I had a blast, but haven't quite decided if I will play regularly or not.

I'll see what Mr Brightside thinks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Topeka Tinman

This month, I decided to try a new experience, something that would challenge me mentally and physically. I've done marathons and while that will still remain my primary focus, the lure of the triathlon was calling. I admit, I didn't put in a lot of training on the bike or in the pool, I was counting on my running experience to carry most of the load.

The race is held in Lake Shawnee Park in Topeka. There is a 400 acre lake, campground, marina, golf course, beach and miles of beautiful trails; a little slice of country, right in the city.

Being a rookie, I arrived early on race day, not knowing what to expect.

Step 1 - get my body markings done. Apparently, they need to write your race number in permanent marker on different body parts; probably so they can easily identify the body should I drown.

Step 2 - park my bike in the transition area. They have some special racks for mountain bikes with wider grooves for the larger tires. These racks are all the way in the back of the transition area. I guess it's not enough of a disadvantage that I'm riding a slow 'comfort bike', they need to make me go all the way to the back to make the transition to run!

Step 3 - well, there is nothing else to do, I'll just go get a look at the swim area.

We make our way down to the beach and watch some of the other athletes warming up in the lake. Me, I prefer to save my energy; I'll just watch. Guys are coming out of the water and commenting that the temperature isn't too bad. Being a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold, I'm vary of what's "not too bad." Then I look and see other guys in wetsuits and become even more alarmed. I don't even dare go feel the water, I might be inclined to panic. Actually, the water temp is somewhere in the mid 70's, but in my mind, that sounds cold.

After a stroll around the area, it's time to head to the start. I make my way to the very back of the pack. There are 3 different heats and I'm in the second, but I figure who cares, I just want to be in the back and not in any ones way. A couple of ladies tell me that I should be in one of the heats in front of them. How would they know, I must look like an experienced tri-athlete! I'm politely told, "Uh sir, all the women are in the last heat."

In the words of Homer Simpson, "Doh"
So, to the back of the second heat I go, not to worry though, there's a minute or so of time between each heat. I can still lag to the back of my group and keep my flailing arms from injuring anyone.
The moment of truth has come and into the water we go. Wow, first thought, the water's not bad! What the heck was I worried about? In no time, I get into a groove and the swim starts off very well. Within the first 100 yards, I've already changed my normal breathing pattern. I've worked on this over and over in the pool, always taking a breathe every three strokes. I don't know if it's because I'm racing, but I feel the need to breathe every two strokes now. Doesn't seem to make much difference, I'm still breathing comfortably. With the exception of going a bit off course now and then, the swimming goes off without a hitch. The shore is near, the water is now only waist deep, so I stand up proud with my arms extended to the sky as if I won the lottery. My biggest fear is now behind me.

After throwing on a fresh shirt, socks and shoes, I'm ready to take the bike ride. I know my bike is not designed for road racing, but it's all I have and I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars, OK, probably thousands, on a new race bike unless I find the desire to continue doing these races. I'll have to work harder than most just to keep an average speed. A few miles into the bike course, I come across a sign that reads Turn Ahead. It's the race organization's familiar logo, but when I come to the next crossroad, no volunteers, no police guards, nothing. "Wow, do I turn or not", I wondered to myself. Off in the distance straight ahead I see another biker, so I must keep going. It seems too soon to turn anyway, based on what I remember seeing on the course map.

After another mile or so, I see more signs, this time though, there are volunteers and police all making sure you make the turn. Ah, I did the right thing, now feeling much more at ease. However, apparently not everyone made the same decision at the first sign. I later find out that 20 people were disqualified. I assume they had all cut the course and made that turn, which actually was the turn for the shorter race that was running simultaneously. Very unfortunate. Somehow I feel the race committee messed up on this one.
Somewhere about halfway through the bike course, a van pulls up beside me with the windows down and the man inside tells me he is with the medical staff and that I was one of the last riders, so he would be following behind me; don't be alarmed. Gee, that sure was a boost to my ego! How demoralizing.

My legs hold together and I finish the bike portion in what felt like good time, relatively speaking. As was the case last year when I tried my first Duathlon, I did not pass one single soul on the bike. I really didn't expect to anyway. Now comes what I'm best at; running. I'll make up some ground here. Well, so I thought.

It's around 9:30 am now and the sun is beginning to heat up. The humidity this time of year is also pretty high, so the final leg will not be easy. My legs at this point feel like rubber and my shoes feel like lead. Sweat is pouring from body like a leaky faucet. I'll have to go slow and easy if I want to finish this race. Fortunately, there are aid stations every mile on the run course and each one them has GU. I think I stopped at every single station and by the third, was drinking one cup and pouring another over my head.

The run portion of the course is one loop around the entire lake. It is a very pretty setting and the natural beauty keeps me from focusing too much on how tired I am. After .6 mile swimming, 20 miles biking and 7 miles running, I'm beat. I see the finish line ahead, pick up my pace as much as my body allows and cross the finish line with a hidden joy packed somewhere behind my grimacing face. The running today has been tougher than I imagined; where I thought I'd do my best, I struggled the most. OK, some of that is just because the running is the last event, but I still expected to do better.

So, on this day I became a Tri-athlete. Will I ever do another? I'm not sure yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I don't exactly feel the need to do it again. I think my next focus may become an Ultra marathon, as I am eyeing a 50K this fall.

Next up; the Okoboji Marathon in July.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

5 Questions answered

I've been tagged by Jenny, so I guess I'll give a shot at answering the 5 running questions given.

1- How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Just about 10 years ago was when I quit smoking (after 25+ years) and began to live a healthier lifestyle. I joined a gym and was just beginning to try out the treadmill. I did my first long run that year; 1 mile!!

2-What is your best and worst run/race experience?

For the best, I've got to go back to that very first race I ever ran, Hospital Hill in 2003. I ran the 12K and will never forget the ecstatic feeling I had just crossing the finish line. I didn't train much, having run no longer than 4 miles in any one day. I became hooked on that day.

The worst experience was probably the same race 4 years later, but I ran the half marathon this time, just about 5 weeks after running my first marathon. I hadn't recovered well enough from the marathon and I struggled the entire run. I remember that my daughter ran with me and would run backwards facing me, all while yelling at me to keep pushing. I didn't listen well, I think I stopped numerous times to walk.

3- Why do you run?

It used to be that running was just a way to help stay in good enough shape so I could continue to play hockey. Once I hung up the skates, things began to change. Running had now become the dominate athletic activity in my life. I run mostly because it is the anchor of a healthy lifestyle for me. Secondarily, I absolutely love the races, not because I try to be competitive with others, but I love to challenge myself. I'm hooked on the long runs, preferring endurance over speed.

4- What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

Can't say I've been given any bad advice, but the best 'good advice' I was given was from a total stranger on the website. Basically, when I was starting to feel sluggish and burned out, they told me to take 5 days off, then start training again. This was in the weeks leading up to my first marathon. I took the days off, came back that Saturday for my weekly long run and felt great. The remainder of the training went perfectly smooth. Rest is good my friends!

5- Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

Because of my typical ordinary, boring lifestyle, most people probably wouldn't figure I was hooked on Karaoke. Yes, I would go out every weekend and sing if I could. I don't have the best voice, but some songs I do well, some I butcher pretty bad! It doesn't matter to me, I just have so much fun trying. We don't go out too much anymore, but I will go anytime anybody else wants to. In the old days, my favorite song to sing was Led Zeppelin's Black Dog. I haven't sung that one in many years. Today I enjoy doing songs by artists like Weezer, Green Day or Snow Patrol.

Well, most everyone I know on these blogs has already been tagged, so I'm not going to try and tag any others.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday June 14th

On this day, I became a --- Tri-athlete

There were no goals, no expectations, just a fantastic day in beautiful Lake Shawnee Park in Topeka, culminating in finishing my first triathlon. I don't know my time, not sure I ever want to look, the satisfaction alone of completing this event was extremely rewarding.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with beer in one hand, fine cigar in the other, relaxing on my deck, celebrating the fact that I am a Tri-athlete. Boy, I just love saying that!

Thanks so much to everyone who wished me well. I'll have a race report once I have more time.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

If you think that was dumb.......

In my last post, I made the comment about my wife's and my 'dumb genes'. What could be dumber than implying that my wife had dumb genes? I solidified my own stupidity by just making the remark. But wait, I'm quite sure I've done dumber things than that, right? Absolutely!

I'll bet you have too -- haven't we all?

So, I got to thinking, what's the dumbest thing I've ever done? This post shall be dedicated to everyone who has done something really stupid!

Let's first start with my daughter, Alison. This is how this all got started anyway; with her and her 4.0 grade point average. Luckily, her degree did not require the class Common Sense 101. I will be more than happy to point out one her proudest dumb moments!

It's year 5 of college and Alison has moved into her own 1-bedroom apartment in South Bend, Indiana. As a typical college kid with limited financial resources, (yes, that means dad don't make a ton of money) she does what she can to be frugal. That, of course, includes trying to keep utility payments as low as possible. The apartment is all electric, the heat and central air.

Along comes winter and it's time to set the thermostat low. No sense heating an apartment too much when she spends very little of the day there. And with just a couple extra blankets on the bed, the nights are tolerable. Good kid, we taught her to conserve well. So, Alison goes to set the thermostat down in the low 60's. Just a slight problem though, there's 2 different thermostats; one controls the heat, the other controls the central air. Which one is which??? No problem for my educated daughter, she just turned 'em both down. Problem solved!

Next month, I get a call from Alison, she got her first winter electric bill, a whopping $250 or so. Oh my God, is electric heat that expensive? "Dad, I've got it set to like 60, I'm freezing in here, and I can't afford to turn up the heat", she complains. Well, something doesn't seem right, but I'm 500 miles away, what can I do?

Later in the season, Sue and I finally make a trip to Indiana for a visit. Damn, she's right, this apartment is COLD. Then, one day, I feel a cold breeze blowing out of the air vents in the kitchen. Yes, she turned the central air and the heat down together, so the heat is working double time trying warm the constant blast of cool air. That's my girl!!!

OK, now that Alison is probably mad at me for calling her out, it's time to belittle myself.

This story happened when I was a young, impressional teenager. Actually, I've never told anyone the truth about this. Yes, you heard it here first!

I was maybe 16 or 17 and working at the .20 burger joint that had this large sign out front claiming a million sold, framed in yellow arches. Yes, McDonalds was THE place to work when you were in high school. All the cool girls would come in on Friday night and we had our own little system to alert the other guys when a foxy chick came in. Depending on what register the girl would line up, 1 through 4, we would yell out "Ice on Four", a direct reference to which line to check out.

It's a Sunday morning and I'm part of the opening crew that day. I'm down in the basement (yes, this old McDonalds had a basement) collecting cups, lids and all the stock we'll need for the morning rush. All of a sudden, water begins to pour from the ceiling right near where I'm working. "Hah, which idiot dumped over the mop bucket," I wondered to myself. In a quick thought of providing some comic relief for the poor sucker, I decide to stand under the waterfall; this will surely provide a good laugh when I walk upstairs! Holy Trans Fat Batman, it's not water, it's burning hot oil.

Yes, Sunday morning is when they change the shortening in the fryers. The gob of fat comes as solid shortening and once it's heated, it then melts. The person working on the vats that morning forgot to close the spigot after drainng the old oil and once the new batch melted, down it poured on me.

I took a trip to the clinic with a nice dose of 2nd degree burns on my scalp, neck and shoulders. The joke was on me that day.

There, I feel relieved, what's the dumbest thing you've ever done?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Oui Oui Mon Ainee

It's been awhile since I posted, so here's what's been going on lately.

To start things off, I took a trip to South Bend, Indiana to be with Alison as she graduates from Notre Dame with a Masters Degree in French Crap. One might ask themselves, (as I have asked for many years) what do you do with a degree in French Crap? Well, undoubtably, you teach other unsuspecting kids French Crap in high school. Yes, six years of college and she is now taking a job at St Benedict High School in Chicago to pass on her wealth of knowledge in the French language.

Now, I kid Alison all the time about French, the language, the people, the country, but obviously, I am extremely proud of her accomplishments. She has worked very hard throughout her educational years, carrying a 4.0 everywhere she went. The logical question becomes, "Where did she get the brains, sure wasn't from my wife or myself?" Maybe I should research the mailman, the milkman (yes, I actually remember having a milkman that delivered to our house when I was a kid in Detroit) - anyone that may have taken responsibility as the father. But apparently, dumb genes + dumb genes can equal a smart kid.

Teaching high school wasn't her ultimate goal, she did apply to a number of grad schools to enter a PHD program, however, at this time was not accepted. Well, sorry to say, but those schools missed the boat; she would have made their programs proud. Not to lose sleep though, she'll try again next year with a bit more on her resume. I'm sure she won't rest until I have to call her Dr Stiner!

3 Generations of Polocks
Broncia, Sue, Alison
Now, it's time to talk about training and what's next on my schedule. Next up is the Topeka Tinman Triathlon. I've cut back on the running lately in order to get in more swimming and biking miles. Here's what the last two weeks looked like:

I'm trying to add more bike miles, but let's be honest, I don't really enjoy it, so I'm not doing so well there. I'm hoping the marathon legs can pull me through the 20 miles I need to bike in the race. Frankly, I'm doing this triathlon just to see how well I can handle the challenge, I don't care anything about how long it takes. I'll be totally satisfied just to finish.

I have also added a new marathon to my schedule, The University of Okoboji Marathon on July 19th in northern Iowa. This is a smaller race that coincides with a triathlon. I'm a bit apprehensive about a marathon in July because of the heat, but plan to just take this one easy, using it more as a training run for the 50K I plan this fall. This area of Iowa has a number of lakes and is allegedly a summer hotspot for vacationers. The wife and I plan to camp at the State Park for 3 nights while in town for the race. There is just something very primitive, very spiritual about sleeping outdoors in a tent, then arising in the morning for a long, long jog in Mother Nature's splendor. I am really looking forward to this run.

And by the way, GO RED WINGS!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Country Music Marathon

What is the make-up of a great race?

Is it the course, the scenery, the spectators? Maybe the organization is most important, the food, the post race spread? Should it be a destination, a reason to travel, the weather? Maybe Nashville has a little bit of everything.

Saturday, April 26th 2008 began with a rude awakening. Mother Nature provided overnight storms and a look out the window from my 5th story room at the Loews Vanderbilt 5-Star Hotel (5-star prices with 3-star amenities), reveals a steady rain. Not exactly my idea of perfect conditions!

OK, just a quick review of the hotel:
Great location; just a few short blocks from the start line
For just an extra $19 a night, parking
A bag full of goodies for my dog, this actually was filled with very nice items
No pool, no hot tub
No runners breakfast, they did have a few choices in their little café, so $4.50 got me a bagel and a banana
A very pleasant staff and a nice, clean roomy room.
They handed out garbage bags for all the runners to wear as we walked in the rain to the start line, really, a nice touch

At 6:30 am, my daughter, Alison, and I begin the walk down West End Avenue in the light, annoying rain. This race has approximately 30,000 entrants, so the streets are crowded. Because of the large numbers of runners, they use a corral start. Each corral will be released about a minute or so after the first. Based on my blazing slow speed, I’ve been assigned corral 10.

As if there were some type of divine intervention, the rain stops at precisely 6:59 and corral #1, aka the Kenyans, is released one short minute later. It was only a short 20-minute glimpse into the life of cattle before our corral was herded up to the start line and we were set free to run the streets of Nashville.

The race begins very smoothly even with the masses of runners. Already, the streets are lined with screaming fans and you get a sense that this race is going to be fun. We lined up behind the 4:15 pace group but never was able to weave through all the people to get close. The first couple miles went as planned and we were running just a few seconds behind our desired pace of 10 minute miles.

The early miles find us running along Music Row, a unique section of town where many of the old row homes have been converted into recording studios and the like. You wonder if stars like George Strait or Loretta Lynn made their first recordings here. Miles 5-7 find us wandering through some of the areas neighborhoods, with a mix of modest and elegant homes, then its back up through Music Row again and heading toward downtown.

The half marathon split is near mile 11 and Alison and I are making excellent time. We continue to cut 20 seconds or so off our goal for each mile and we both feel quite comfortable, but Alison is only running the half, so I’m now on my own. I hit the halfway point at about 2:06 and I’m feeling strong and confident.

Shortly after splitting off with Alison, I come across a large church or maybe a seminary, but there is a group of nuns in full habit lined up on the side of the road, cheering like they’re in high school. As I ran by, I got a high five from each one of them. My daughter is a devoted Catholic who has often stated how much see loves nuns, too bad she missed this part of the race. Just past the nuns was an aid station with a large sign at the first table: Holy Water!

Around mile 14, I finally have sighted the 4:15 pacer ahead of me. I’ve been working hard at trying to keep this pace, but I hadn’t seen the pacer in my view since the first mile. This really gives me a mental boost. The next few miles I continue to try and close the gap between us, but never get closer than a couple hundred feet.

Somewhere in this stretch, props to the guy on the side of the road in the KC Royals hat and a T-shirt with big letters that reads “Yankees Suck”.

As I head into mile 18, I’m starting to show signs of wear. My pace is beginning to slow and my mind is having trouble redirecting focus from the tiring muscles. Physically, I’m doing OK, there is only minor pain in the muscles below my left calf and some soreness in the shins, but nothing too serious. I’m now looking forward to each water stop just so I can walk for a few seconds. My cathexis (that word should be worth extra points if Nitmos is reading) now needs to be on finishing this race with at least a PR.

I get a big surprise at mile 21, where I spot my wife and daughter along the street. I didn’t expect to see her again until the finish. Alison, who had finished her half in 2:04, decided to jump in and run some more with me. At the time, it was exactly what I needed. Alison has a way about her, always upbeat and ALWAYS talking. Technically, I call it annoying me, but she probably won’t even read this, so I can make fun of her!

So talk she does. She is rambling on about school, her boyfriend, the city, just on and on. She asks me if I want to hear about her thesis (she is receiving her Masters in a couple weeks.) “Of course I do”, I said not really understanding exactly what she asked. Big mistake! I don’t think I heard a single word after “it’s about a French author…” ZZZZ

Well, maybe the quick little power nap was good for me. I grabbed a few pretzels at mile 24 and all of a sudden felt energized. After 6 miles with a declining pace, I was able to get back to the pace I had in the first half. Once I get to this point in a race, I seem to gain some motivation, just by being close to the end. I’m back to picking out people in front of me and playing my own little game, just beat that guy or don’t let anyone pass me now.

The final mile goes well and I cross the finish line in 4:24:37. My goals for the race were:
Ultimate Goal – 4:15 – missed by 9 minutes
Secondary Goal – avg. a 10-minute mile pace – pace was 10.06, consider it close enough
Basic Goal – set a PR – WooHoo, beat my last race by 4 minutes.

Overall, I’m quite satisfied. After a 2-½ mile walk back to the hotel, I surprisingly felt pretty decent, much, much better than my first marathon, one year ago today. It’s off now to indulge in a meal fit for a king and the best beer on the menu.

Here’s a quick recap of the race itself.

  • A fun race, plenty of bands, cheerleaders

  • Spectators were loud and abundant

  • Aid stations were well organized and consistent

  • Power gels, fruit and salt available at a couple stops

  • The first half of the course seemed to have most of the hills (maybe because I was zoned out for much of the second half and didn’t notice) regardless, the hills weren’t too steep or too difficult

  • The course is a nice mix of neighborhood, parks, downtown, a stretch along the river, but seemed to miss the major attractions of the city (namely, the original Grand Ole Opry building and Printers Alley)

  • A good amount of food and drink available at the finish line (fruit, bagels, cookies, muffins and the like)

  • I heard my name announced as I approached the finish line

Go ahead, do Nashville, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Brew #2

The results are now in on my second attempt at homebrewing. I set out to brew a Scottish type ale, reminiscent of McEwens. After numerous taste tests, yes, that means I've tried one in many different settings; one right after work, one after a workout, one after dinner, one after taking a shower, and I must say, this brew has given favorable results in every setting. My son and his 2 years of eligible drinking seniority has also put on his stamp of approval.

This ale is a nice dark brown, full bodied and delivers a nice bite. The slightly smoky flavor seems to smooth out the experience. We shall aptly name this brew "Stine's Hip-Check Ale." For those of you that might not know the term hip-check (forgive me Canadian readers, I know you do!) it is old hockey language. A smooth skating defenseman would line-up the on-rushing forward and at the precise time, turn into the skater, leading with his hip, and deliver a check that sends the unsuspecting player into a tumble. Perfectly legal, of course. In old school hockey, the hip-check was a thing of beauty, a graceful check that produced a strong kick, so to speak.
Here's the recipe:
3.5 lbs Plain Light Malt Extract
3.5 lbs Plain Amber Malt Extract
2 oz Crushed Roasted Barley
8 oz Crushed Peat Smoked Malt
1 oz East Kent Goldings Hop (bittering)
1 oz Fuggle Hops (Finishing)
1 pack Ale Yeast

Reverse Empty Nest Syndrome

Recently, the beer has been disappearing faster than Ty Pennington rebuilds a house. Somehow, this last batch, which produces about 2 cases, has dwindled down to a 12-pack in a weeks time. This strange phenomenon was finally unraveled when I discovered my son had moved back home and was holed-up in the basement. Well, Ok, I knew he had moved back, but imagine the shock to these 2 old empty nesters who suddenly had a 100% spike in the grocery bill! It feels rather odd having someone back home after about a full year of freedom, but the stay should be short lived. Billy is in the process of purchasing his first home and expects to be moving back out soon. Of course, mom and dad will have to help with his finances until he finishes his degree. They must teach that in accounting nowadays, eh?
Billy's new home

Country Music Marathon

I will be heading off to Tennessee on the 24th and meeting up with my daughter, Alison, to run the marathon. I have set my ultimate goal at 4:15 and hope to at least be under 4:30. I feel ready and am excited to see if I can pull it off. After that, it's up to Michigan for a week's vacation, if you consider painting my parents condo a vacation! I may or may not have access to computers during the week, so it could be a week or so before I post the marathon report.